The Oklahoma City Thunder strengthened their chance of dominating the Western Conference this season with the acquisition of Paul George via trade. The move was also expected to convince Russell Westbrook to sign the supermax extension with the Thunder. Unfortunately, a month before the 2016-17 NBA season starts, the reigning MVP hasn’t yet agreed to sign the five-year, $207-million deal, making some people believe that he also plans to leave the Thunder like Kevin Durant.
Recently, Russell Westbrook signed a new deal, not with the Thunder, but with Nike’s Jordan Brand. After signing the 10-year extension, his future with the Thunder became uncertain. Once the offseason started, Thunder general manager Sam Presti immediately offered Westbrook a supermax extension and seemed quite confident that the negotiation would be easy.
However, the deal didn’t go as Presti expected. Westbrook’s decision to delay the signing of a new deal with the Thunder created various speculations in the past months. One of the interesting trade rumors currently circulating is that Westbrook and Paul George may consider playing for their hometown team, the Los Angeles Lakers, next summer. Not only Westbrook and George, but they can also team up with the best player on the planet, LeBron James.
The Thunder traded for Paul George knowing that he could only be a one-year rental. The 27-year-old small forward made it clear that he’ll only stay in Oklahoma City if they make it to the Western Conference Finals or upset the Golden State Warriors. If the Thunder fail to make a huge impact this season, there is a higher possibility that George will not only be the one leaving.
The idea of losing both superstars is the Thunder’s nightmare right now. If multiple signs are pointing out that Paul George and Russell Westbrook will leave next summer, Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports believes Thunder general manager Sam Presti may consider trading George and Westbrook this season.
“Even if Westbrook were to give them every indication he plans to re-sign next summer, the remote possibility of him following Durant out the door has to be enough to scare Presti into at least considering the idea of trading Westbrook and George this season. That is the level of uncertainty that shrouds Oklahoma City as Westbrook’s indecision fills the air with doubt,” Rohrbach said.
If Russell Westbrook will not sign the extension by October 16, it will be best for the Thunder to trade him than lose another superstar without getting anything in return. The Thunder undeniably became a better team with the acquisition of Paul George, but it remains questionable if they are already in a position to dethrone Kevin Durant and the Golden State Warriors. As the 2017-18 season draws near, expect more rumors to circulate around George, Westbrook, and the Oklahoma City Thunder.
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